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Is Keratoconus a Disability?

Keratoconus is not always a disability, but it could be considered one. Read on to find out which scenarios would make this condition a disability.

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An Ocular Disorder: But is it a Disability?

Keratoconus is an eye disorder that gradually affects the dome-shaped outer layer of the eye known as the cornea, causing impaired vision. Normal-shaped eyes are spherical. Keratoconus causes thinning and bulging of the cornea, resulting in a cone-like shape. As a result of this alteration, light passing through the cornea doesn’t focus properly on the retina, leading to blurred vision and sensitivity to light and glare. Extreme fluctuations and changes in eyesight should always be reported to an optometrist.

Keratoconus by itself does not necessarily qualify as a disability. With the available treatments today (options range from scleral contact lenses to various surgical procedures) many people maintain levels of vision which don't meet this criterion. 

While medical advancements provide most people with improved eyesight, severe visual loss may qualify as a disability. Legal blindness is 20/200 vision or less. People with advanced keratoconus may fall within this range of deficiency at later stages of this disorder. In such circumstances, keratoconus would qualify as a disability.

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Treatment Options 

There are many effective medical interventions today to improve visual deficits of people with keratoconus. These include:

  •  Special prescription glasses and contact lenses
  •  Surgical interventions on the cornea such as a cross-linking procedure and corneal transplants to improve vision and slow the progression.
Additional Information

Additional Information

The definition of what constitutes a medical disability varies regionally, and what may be defined as such in one country may not meet the legal criteria in another.

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Common Questions

Keratoconus is typically a disqualifying condition for military service. The physical demands and vision requirements of the military often mean that those with significant eye disorders are not eligible to enlist. Consultation with an eye doctor or military recruiting officer would be essential for individual assessment.
Keratoconus is usually disqualifying for commercial and military pilots due to the strict visual acuity requirements. Treatment such as specialty contact lenses might improve vision, but regulations vary by jurisdiction and aviation authority. A comprehensive assessment by an eye doctor would be necessary to determine an individual's suitability for flying.
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Summary

Keratoconus is an ocular disease that results in corneal alteration and impaired eyesight. Symptoms include sensitivity to glare and light, and blurred vision. Speak with your optometrist to find out if your visual deficits qualify as a disability, and whether the available corrective measures can help you attain better vision. To schedule an eye exam with our eye doctor, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.

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